Thursday, September 6, 2012

Road Trip Part 6 - "We didn't go far enough with kicking your lot out of this country..."

May 2012

It was a 6.5 hour drive to Salt Lake City, being done in a day with 2 and a bit hours driving per driver. The journey passed pretty uneventfully, passing back into Utah (promptly labelled as ‘shit’ again) and north into the farming lands. With an obligatory stop at Walmart (as per usual now!) and a quick game of kick around with a football (real football you Americans!) we had found whilst waiting for those shopping to return, it was my turn to take the wheel for the final stretch, whilst everyone else got drunk in the back. The route involved negotiating the large scale and rather confusing construction projects in progress on the routes into the city, and the SatNav being a bitch. As usual! We did manage to find the RV park without any major dramas thankfully, and after parking, hooking up (no surprises at the people who did that job), and eating I simply got my head down whilst a drunken argument erupted around me.

On the road antics

I’ve briefly mentioned RV life in a previous post, but I'll talk about it again. Nine people in a confined space can get a bit problematical at times. Especially at night, which usually involved 3 on the double bed at the back, 2 on the bed above the cab, 1 on the bed behind the cab passenger seat, 2 (usually Amy and Kim the smallest of the group) on the ‘midget’ bed which is formed from the table, and one on the floor – most often than not one of the lads. It had come to a head once or twice that the girls weren’t pulling their weight in the RV. Both in terms of cooking/cleaning and hook ups (though I hasten to add some of the girls were better than others at this) and in terms of sleeping on the floor. It really started to grate me, and others of the lads causing bitter mutterings and raised eyebrows when some of the girls talked about believing in feminism and equality of treatment. Hmmm…. Anyways, the next morning was a slow one again. This in one way frustrated me because I wanted to go and see the city, but at the same time it was kinda a blessing as I needed time to sort out my post-trip plans. Eventually we left the RV park at 4pm. Yes, 4pm for a day’s exploring of the city.

Salt Lake City is an interesting place to say the least. The area was settled by the founder of Mormonism (LINK) and over 40% of the population is Mormon. This was definitely reflected in the architecture and layout of the city, with the Mormon Temple located at the centre with the city grid radiating out from it. This is very different to other state capitals (SLC being Utah’s capital) where the Capitol building is traditionally at the centre of the city. The place was also very clean. Not a bad thing you may think, but I mean incredibly clean – not a scrap of litter or speck of graffiti anywhere. It was almost like the film Demolition Man where any graffiti is automatically painted over! The first stop was the Mormon Temple, which was quite the imposing structure to say the least! Set in its own square and surrounded by other Mormon related buildings it was quite interesting to have a poke around and see what the religion was all about. From there it was a detour to the mall (yes the bloody mall!) for a look (a mall is a mall to me but whatever)/Amy to get her ears pierced/me to buy an incredibly delicious and cheap brownie. I suggested a walk, and Michael, Barney, Eshe and Kim joined, wandering up to the Capitol. Being the states governmental building it was rather impressive, especially with the sun setting over the city below us (the Capitol was on a hill if you didn’t work that out!).

Salt Lake City

After the obligatory photos, it was a nice walk back down to the Temple via Bigham Young’s House (the guy who invented Mormonism) to meet the others. Wahid was not looking comfortable what-so-ever with all the religion around him, much to every ones amusement, and got a taxi back to the RV park with the others. We Capitol walkers (on a tip off from the others) headed to the ‘Mormon Family Center’, where you could access databases to look up your family tree. Despite not knowing much beyond my immediate family, I found it fascinating to look up all these record to try and find my ancestors! The (rather old!) ladies in there seemed very excited to have a bunch of foreigners in there, and kept showing us the modern wonders of entering search terms and clicking the mouse – cheers ladies! Then being swept up in the spirit of the place we had a photo in a mock up of Ellis Island (the island off Manhattan Island in New York where immigrants were processed to enter the country), despite us not being immigrants or in New York. Work that one out! The guy who took the photo was an older gentleman, whose badge proclaimed him to be an ‘Elder’ (pretty high up in the Mormon Church), and he seemed a nice enough person; interested in us being foreign and all that (as usual!). However the conversation took a turn for the weird (the politest way of saying it I guess) as he told us the Americans didn’t go far enough with “kicking the British out” of America. It all became rather awkward all of a sudden, none of us wanting to be impolite and tell him where to go. Thankfully we were saved by the place closing (the God of Mormon looking down in us maybe?!), and we grabbed a taxi back to the RV for some lovely dinner and an episode of South Park relating to Mormonism – an ironically fitting end to the day!

Bigham Young's House

Capitol Building

Riding the Utah Bull. Not sure if the bull appreciated it or not.
The next day (after the characteristic slow start I’m finally starting to get accustomed to) we set off in search of the great Salt Lake. And we couldn’t find it. The damn thing is like 2000 square miles and we couldn’t find it. Typical! We later found out that the road to the National Park that was in the middle of the lake we were aiming for was shut, but at the time it was rather funny if not a bit annoying!

The Salt Lake. Apparently...

Despite the brief and rather bizarre visit to SLC, I sorta liked the place in its own way. Although its obvious that Mormonism has a huge influence on the city, it seemed more of a wealthy city in general, and there were minimal bars (not a good thing I know!) and the place seemed a hell of a lot cleaner than any other city I have been too previously. I’d never live there for sure, but as we left SLC to continue north, I thought that maybe I would return some day and spend a bit more time there actually looking around the place.

Hitting the 2000mile mark

 (map from Google maps)
(additional photos from Amy, Eshe and Kimberley)

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